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Pitt fades down the stretch (again) in loss to Syracuse, 60-55

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NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I woke up after a long nap during a weekend where I’m sick as a dog in time to catch the second half of Pitt’s loss to Syracuse. When I got up, it was halftime and the confused Larry David gif seemed to be a perfect summary.

The Panthers trailed 22-20 and while it was clear the offense wasn’t playing well, the game was at least close.

The game remained close in the second half but, as we’ve seen so many times this year, Pitt just didn’t make plays down the stretch. Certainly not enough of them. That theme was not only visible in other games but was also present for the second time this year against the Orange, specifically. Earlier this season, Pitt trailed Syracuse by only two with under ten minutes to play only to fall apart at the end.

You can look at a few problem areas. They opened the second half scoring only five points the first six-plus minutes. And probably more importantly, they made only three field goals in the last nine minutes of the game - and two of those were garbage-time three-pointers inside of 15 seconds when the game was out of reach, so they’re barely worth acknowledging.

That would be an astonishing feat if not for the fact that Pitt has had many similar dismal stretches all year.

I continue to remain so undecided on Jared Wilson-Frame. He was 5-10 in the first half and was really the only player that seemed to do anything of consequence for the Panthers. But he completely disappeared in the second and was 2-13, finishing 7-23, taking nearly twice as many shots as anyone else on the team (Carr had 12 shots).

It’s a tough call, obviously. You’ve got to play him just because few others are contributing much on offense and have the ability to get quality shots. But, man, sometimes he’s great and sometimes he just flat out kills the team. I didn’t see his first-half attempts but he took, as he typically does, a lot of ill-advised shots in the second half. It all boils down to one thing for him - his shot selection makes or breaks his performance and sometimes, he plays one good half and one bad half.

Overall, I remain astonished that this late in the year, Pitt’s offense still remains this bad. The team being bad and losing is not a shock. But 55 points.

55.

You’d see these kind of efforts every once in a while under Jamie Dixon. Typically, the fanbase would go into a firestorm when it happened. But Pitt has now failed to get out of the 50s eight times this season.

The silver lining here is pretty easy to see in that the games are getting closer. Pitt’s now lost its last two games by only nine points. in the end, though, these are still losses. I think you can make the argument the team is getting a little better now but there are still more problems than you can count.

Adding fuel to the growing dumpster is that the next four games for Pitt have the look of being really difficult as the Panthers go on the road to face Miami, North Carolina, and Clemson before returning home to face Louisville. The Tar Heels and Tigers are both ranked and the Hurricanes have been ranked much of the year. The Cardinals? They’re 15-5 and beat Pitt by 26 earlier this year.

This is some kind of season.

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